In 2017, Phil Galea, a member of Reclaim Australia and the True Blue Crew, was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on several homes in Melbourne. Out of all those targeted in the raid, he was the only one arrested. He was placed in solitary confinement and remained there for three years without a trial. Mike Holt, a friend of Galea’s, was the only one who maintained contact with him through letters and occasional phone calls. Despite his isolation, Holt made efforts to shed light on Galea’s situation by writing articles and recording podcasts on his website.
When Galea finally went to trial in November 2020, Holt was asked to provide evidence in support of him. Holt flew to Melbourne at his own expense, but as he arrived at the airport, he received a call from Galea’s lawyer informing him that the court had been closed. Holt attempted to attend the court on multiple occasions but was met with closed doors each time. Eventually, he gave up and returned home. During Galea’s trial, the judge refused to allow any of Galea’s witnesses to testify. He was eventually convicted by a Victoria jury of preparing for a terrorist act and making a document likely to facilitate a terrorist act, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Holt, believing that Galea was being used as a scapegoat to demonstrate the power of the police backed by the anti-terrorism act, wrote an article about his experience in Victoria and Galea’s situation upon returning home to Queensland. However, he unknowingly mentioned names that were protected under a suppression order. Once informed of the suppression order, Holt promptly removed the article from his website and social media pages. However, this did not prevent the federal police from later coming to his home, seizing his computers, phone, documents, and hard drives. Holt was then issued a summons to court about a year later.
Since then, Holt has been fighting in court, arguing that he should be tried in Queensland based on constitutional law. He claims that by trying to drag him into a Victorian court, the authorities are committing treason. Despite his efforts and numerous affidavits, the courts, judges, and magistrates have ignored his claims and continued to push him towards a Victorian trial. In late 2022, Holt was ordered to appear in a Victorian County Court to stand trial. When he refused, citing Section 80 of the Constitution, he was arrested by the Australian Federal Police, placed in an overnight holding cell, and flown to Melbourne.
Upon arrival, Holt was imprisoned for six days before being released on bail. In July of the same year, he was summoned to County Court Melbourne and, this time, decided to attend to avoid further arrest. However, Holt had filed a Form 78B to all Attorney Generals in Australia, resulting in the trial being unable to proceed until they responded. Despite this, the judge proceeded with the trial, which lasted six days. Holt was convicted by the jury, and the judge adjourned the court, scheduling a sentencing date for November of that year. In response, Holt filed an appeal against the trial in the Supreme Court Appeals Court, arguing that it should never have taken place as he should have been tried in Queensland according to constitutional law.
Holt’s appeal is based on two grounds. Firstly, the trial’s violation of Section 80 of the Constitution, which states that trials for federal offenses should take place in the state where the offense was committed. Secondly, he argues that his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 19(b), was violated. Holt believes that his article did not harm anyone and that he merely exercised his right to publish. Despite previous difficulties in obtaining Supreme Court hearings, Holt’s appeal has been accepted for a hearing in the Appeals Court. Consequently, the sentencing in the County Court has been delayed pending the outcome of his appeal.
Holt views this case as more than just a matter of publishing an article that contravened a suppression order. He sees it as a fight to protect freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the Covenant. He remains determined to fight this battle tirelessly, even taking it to the High Court if necessary. Should the courts refuse to uphold constitutional rights and the law, Holt intends to establish a Common Law court of the People to hold those responsible for various crimes against the people of the Commonwealth accountable.